26 November 1999

FENDTVARIO ISWORTHTHELONGWAIT

Dennis Pridmores ambition was to own a Fendt tractor. So

when he placed his order for a new Vario 700 in April, he

looked forward to working through the summer in his new

kit. But it wasnt until September he got the chance to try

out the new tractor – even so hes well pleased with it

BUYING a Fendt had always been one of Dennis Pridmores ambitions, and he is delighted with his new 700 Vario series tractor – in spite of a three months delivery delay.

Mr Pridmore decided to switch to a Fendt tractor after the new 700 Vario series was launched at last years Smithfield Show. There are four models in the range with maximum power outputs from 125hp, and his choice was the 716, the top model in the range powered by a 169hp version of the latest Deutz six-cylinder engine.

The order was placed in April, and a promise of early June delivery encouraged Mr Pridmore to sell the JCB Fastrac the new Fendt would be replacing. The June delivery date passed, but Mr Pridmore had to wait another three months before the new tractor arrived in September at West Farm, South Luffenham, Rutland.

"It was disappointing, and it could have made life very difficult for us," he says.

"But fortunately Boston Tractors, the dealer which supplied the Fendt, and Agco kept us going by lending us tractors, and we were never without one to use.

"I never did find out what caused the delay, but we were looked after very well while we were waiting. They lent us several different tractors, and one of them was a Fendt 926 with a 260hp engine and the Vario transmission. We used the big tractor for corn carting and subsoiling, and it was very impressive."

One of the most important jobs for the new tractor is operating a new KRM 5m seed drill with a front-mounted hopper, and during its first five weeks on the 365ha (900 acre) all-arable farm the Fendt has clocked up 250 hours with the drill, mostly with Dennis Pridmore at the wheel.

Mr Pridmore suffers from a back problem, so cab comfort was high on the list of priorities when he decided to buy the Fendt which features a hydro-pneumatic suspension system on the front axle plus shock absorbers under the cab and an air-sprung seat with front-to-rear suspension.

"If the weather was right I often kept the drill going til midnight, and it would be difficult for me to do that unless I am using a tractor with a comfortable ride. The Fastrac was excellent, and it is still the most comfortable tractor I have driven," he says. The Fendt comes a very good second and the suspension makes it much more comfortable than an ordinary tractor."

Although the tractor is comfortable enough for long working days, Mr Pridmore is surprised the cab interior is not larger. His main ploughing tractor is an 8200 John Deere with a much more spacious cab, he says. The Fendt cab is not a problem for Mr Pridmore, but the fuel tank capacity is a more serious criticism.

Small tank

The tank holds 275 litres, not enough for a normal working day and well short of the capacity needed for the long days the tractor was working with the seed drill, he explained.

"I can only assume German farmers have a much shorter working day. I cant get a proper days work out of the Fendt without a refill, and I had to keep the bowser in the field to top the tank up."

Fendts hightech approach to tractor design includes extensive use of electronic and computerised controls and information systems. Mr Pridmore says this is an impressive feature of the 700 series tractor, but it could also take a while to get used to getting the best from all the systems available.

"It is very well designed and it can really help you to get more performance out of the tractor. I think anyone who has had some experience of computers and electronics would get used to it very quickly, but some of the older generation of tractor drivers could find it a bit confusing."

The Vario transmission, combining the ease of operation of a hydrostatic drive with the efficiency of a mechanical gearbox, was one of the features of the 700 series which attracted Dennis Pridmore to the Fendt. Now, after five weeks and 250 hours, he says it is probably the best tractor transmission currently available, although he concedes that he has not used it for a wide enough range of jobs to make a proper assessment.

Another feature which helped persuade Mr Pridmore to sign the order form was the design and build quality of the Fendt, and he says this was also what first attracted him to the idea of owning a Fendt.

"I have always thought of it as a quality tractor, and the only thing that stopped me buying one before was the price. They have always been expensive, and thats still the case, but since Agco took over they are just a bit more willing to discuss a discount," he said. "Its a good tractor – well worth waiting for." &#42

FENDT 716 VARIO

DATA

Engine: 5.7 litre Deutz 6-cylinder with 160hp rated output and 169hp maximum.

Transmission: Vario stepless with 50km/hr maximum speed.

Hydraulics: 110 litres/min flow with 8548 kN/kp maximum lift.

Weight (unladen): 5.8 tonnes

Price: £77,826 plus VAT.